Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Snow Job

To expand on the concept of leadership, I am happy to link John Baldoni’s analysis of the leadership of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Link here.

As we all know, Michael Bloomberg has been considered a model of mayoral competence. So much so that he has seemed to be contemplating a presidential run.

Or, at least, he was until he got himself involved in the Ground Zero mosque controversy and started sounding more like a pretentious scold than a great leader.

The recent blizzard that hit New York and the rest of the East coast might have been a great opportunity for Bloomberg to show off his leadership.

As Baldoni notes, crises bring out the best and the worst in leaders. For Bloomberg it was a bad few days. He seemed to have no control of the city workforce, he became petulant and nasty, and he left a goodly part of the city unplowed for days on end.

Given that Bloomberg has been known for his Nanny state campaigns to ban smoking and transfatty acids and salt… the picture of him fumbling the response to a metropolitan disaster will stick for quite a long time.

On the contrary, Cory Booker was doing more than supervising the snow removal. He was also down in the trenches, helping out stranded motorists, delivering needed supplies, tweeting about the progress of the cleanup.

The gesture was largely symbolic, but as Baldoni says, even though mayor does not have to be out there shoveling the snow, he does need to show his city that he is in charge.

And, of course, the work has to be done in a timely and efficient fashion. If Michael Bloomberg were out there shoveling snow in Queens while the rest of the city was reeling under the weight of the storm, his efforts would have elicited a wavelet of sympathy but no confidence in his leadership.

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